Sylvester Stallone and director Walter Hill abandon their walking canes to make another brutal action film called ‘Bullet to the Head’, which turns out to be silly, dumb and laughable. This action flick packs a hard punch, but fails in story, character, acting and dialogue. I suppose that’s to be expected from two guys around 70-years-old making a movie that climaxes with battle axes.
Known for his ’80s buddy-cop action films such as ‘48 Hours‘ and ‘Red Heat‘, Walter Hill gives us a henchman/cop pairing this time, where the young rookie must learn from the older and wiser “master,” complete with ethnic jokes and animosity.
You know you’re in for a B-movie ride as soon as a large bullet comes flying through each opening credit towards the audience. The story centers on Jimmy Bobo (Stallone), an assassin for hire who has seen every scenario and been around the block more than a dozen times, but can still take on several enemies at once with ease. Soon after Bobo and his partner Louis (Jon Seda) kill a target they’ve been hired to take out, we discover that they were set up to take a fall. Louis is stabbed repeatedly by a large and menacing mercenary known as Keegan (Jason Momoa from ‘Game of Thrones‘ and the ‘Conan the Barbarian‘ remake). Naturally, Bobo wants revenge. He ends up pairing up with out-of-town police detective Taylor Kwan (Sung Kang) investigating the murder of his former police partner, who just happens to be the same guy Bobo and Louis killed earlier.
After a few clues here and there, and a few brutal beat-downs and deaths, we find out that this murder conspiracy goes all the way to the top politically, with big pay-offs and secret bank accounts. You can pretty much see where it goes from here. The movie has a lot of shoot-outs, fights and car chases, which all lead to a big climax at an abandoned factory, featuring not only tons of bullets, but two very large axes. It’s quite a spectacle, for sure.
Stallone proves that he can still tussle with the young action stars. Every epic punch and kick, every head smashed in, and every gunshot is extremely loud and impressive. It feels like the audio mixers knew that this film was terrible and decided to turn the sound effects to 11. I mean, I felt every hit and every shot fired as if it were happening to me. That’s how intense the sound is, and it’s quite possibly the best part of the film.
As for the acting, it’s some of the worst I’ve seen in a while. Stallone’s face shows no expression whatsoever, as if he’s a wax stand-in that can talk. The only decent actor in the bunch is an over-the-top Christian Slater, who plays a slimeball and has some funny dialogue. Momoa is good enough, but rarely speaks. The cringe-worthy dialogue had myself and the audience laughing out loud, especially lines like, “You had me at fuck you.” And I want to know who made the decision to have Stallone narrate the entire length of the movie. You just can’t understand anything the guy says anymore.
The fight choreography is pretty good, with some powerful martial arts moves, high-flying stunts and fun weapons, but by no means is this a quality film. Yes, it will keep your attention, and yes, it will most likely entertain you to the point of laughter, but I don’t think that was the intention. I think Hill and Stallone were trying to make a gritty, violent action movie with a hint of comedic dialogue, which instead comes across as foolish, unintelligent and goofy. So, yes, it’s entertaining to a degree, but not worth your time to watch it on the big screen.